Jan 23, 2020

The simplest way to get EU citizenship in 2020 is offered by Portugal

How to get EU citizenship? The simplest, and also the cheapest way to obtain EU citizenship is offered by Portugal. All you need to do is to apply for “golden visa” in 2020 and then wait for some years. Good news is, there are speedier alternatives. Obviously, accelerated process will require extra charges.

How to legally obtain EU citizenship? What is an EU citizen passport? Who is a citizen of the European Union? These are questions asked by a growing number of foreigners from many countries of post-Soviet region, who wish to relocate to Europe or to get hold of a passport which offers the benefits of a developed and prestigious country representing Western bloc.

Many high net worth individuals who especially value their time, are interested to know which countries actually could “sell” citizenship. In fact, these countries are quite few. And furthermore, price tags can discourage many potential “buyers.”  Nevertheless, there is an option which combines accelerated process, utmost simplicity and affordable price. The simplest and at the same time cheapest citizenship of the European Union is offered by Portugal authorities.

You just need to pre-apply for a “golden visa” in 2020 and wait 5 years (visiting this state every year and spending no more than a week there), as well as learn Portuguese. Read more:   

Why do you need a second passport and the simplest EU citizenship?

Prior to getting to study the proposals on Portugal, you should first seek to understand why you might need a second passport and the simplest EU citizenship. In the era of invariable globalization, individuals see a new passport as a means to gain access to new markets and expand their freedom in terms of visa-free entry to certain countries, and enhanced cross-border mobility in general.

Majority of people get their first passport by virtue of random set of circumstances: they are born in the family who are citizens of a certain country. However, for many people, the limitations of such an identity document become obvious too soon.

In our world, increasingly complex from political, social and economic perspective, the demand for services of obtaining a second citizenship is rapidly gaining momentum. And year on year this tendency becomes more obvious.

A person with a second citizenship is a citizen of two countries at the same time. As you may be aware, obtaining dual citizenship is quite a challenging process. Therefore, it is vital to learn the opportunities/advantages, as well as the obligations/shortcomings which entail such a decision.

For example, some host countries are not very suitable for relocation because of the high risk of natural disasters, while others require new citizens to join their army almost immediately after obtaining citizenship.

Fortunately, in Europe the risk of natural disasters is relatively low, and as a rule, they do not force anyone to serve in the army. These statements are especially true in the case of Portugal, which is peaceful and relatively safe in terms of natural disasters.

The simplest EU citizenship through a “golden visa” in Portugal

Most countries grant citizenship to foreigners who legally get residence, while not being illegal migrants, and who have lived in their respective host jurisdictions for a certain number of years and have spent the bulk part of each year there. Nevertheless, requirements may drastically vary, depending on location. 

In some countries (for example, the United Arab Emirates), foreigners are required be a legal resident for 30 years or even a longer period before they can qualify for naturalization. Yet, there are many other countries that have much more affordable requirements. And Portugal is a great example of this. 

Firstly, there are many ways to get a residence permit in Portugal. The country is incredibly hospitable to foreigners, and its authorities indeed exercise every effort to attract talented workforce and successful people. Particularly, the unnecessary “red tape” for foreigners applying for residency is practically reduced to nil, and “golden visas” (residence permit for investment) are offered to them.

Secondly, there are many ways to apply for a “golden visa” in Portugal. You can apply for a residence permit by opening a business, buying real estate or securities and investing from 220 thousand euros. You can also obtain a residence permit by moving to Portugal after retirement (and having demonstrated sufficient financial resources to support yourself), or even as a freelancer.

Thirdly, after receiving a Portuguese residence permit, you can apply for naturalization and Portuguese citizenship after a five-year period. In this case, you will need to spend only a week a year in Portugal in order to meet qualification criteria of “prior residence” preceding naturalization.

In addition, applicants are required to pass a basic Portuguese language test, where the level of language proficiency is assessed by experts. With the exception of people who have already passed the qualification test and have submitted the relevant statement evidencing successful test results to the authorities, all other candidates are required to pass this test, regardless of the reasons for naturalization.

The Portuguese language test is based on the criteria of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). Level A2 (basic) is satisfactory result that needs to be demonstrated as language proficiency at the test level. It is important to remember, however, that not every institution is authorized to conduct such tests.  Only the following institutions are licensed for this purpose:

  • Accredited school in a Portuguese-speaking country (including Portugal);
  • An accredited educational center that provides services for assessing knowledge of Portuguese as a foreign language;
  • IEFP – Instituto de Emprego e Formação Profissional (Institute for Employment and Vocational Training);

There are several cases whereby applicants may be exempted from taking the Portuguese test. In some other instances, the test may be tailored to the needs of applicants. For example, the elderly, severely ill, and persons with disabilities may be exempted from the written part of the test. People with special needs, or children under the age of 10 may request alternative test adapted to their special needs or age group.

In the case of applicants under the age of 18, there are several scenarios under which the applicants may be exempt from taking the Portuguese test. As mentioned above, there are several institutions that are eligible to report to competent authorities about the successful test outcomes. If an applicant under the age of 18 attends a school that can issue this type of qualification, the applicant may be exempted from taking the test. This document must be included in the application for naturalization.

There are many educational institutions that teach Portuguese in the world. There are also free online courses available to everyone. These courses are mainly designed to prepare for this kind of Portuguese language proficiency test, and they can be very helpful in preparing for naturalization.

Please note that the official Portuguese language test consists of two parts: written and oral. During the written part, it is necessary to demonstrate satisfactory listening, reading and writing skills. These three components of the test are computer-based. The duration of the written part of the test is limited to 75 minutes.

The second part of the test is an oral exam through an interview, with participation of two teachers of Portuguese. One of these teachers is the person who conducts face-to-face interview, and the other is the evaluator. The oral part of the general test takes no more than 15 minutes and is carried out in accordance with the script containing the introductory notes for the conversation topic, which is the subject of the assessment.

Portuguese passport is a travel document offering fantastic oportunities. It gives you visa-free access to 159 countries, including the USA, Canada, the UK and the entire European Union. Possession of such a document also entitles you, as a citizen of Portugal, to live, work, do business, study or retire anywhere in Europe without a visa. 

Portugal is a great place to live for a wide variety of people: from active entrepreneurs to retirees who have deserved decent retirement after long years of professional work. Portugal offers what is called the “best of both worlds”: low cost of living with high quality goods and services. Add to that the excellent weather combined with the growing segment of startups, and you will get a relatively full picture.

Thus, after obtaining a residence permit in Portugal, you may continue to spend most of your time in your home country, but during the cold winter months you may prefer to move to sunny Portugal (where temperatures can reach 20C in January/February). Why not, you may even wish to spend some time on a Portuguese beach in the summer. And in a few years, you will become eligible to apply for naturalization and get a Portuguese passport.

Another important advantage of Portugal is the NHR tax regime, which is available to its new fiscal residents and allows to actually reduce the personal income tax rate to zero, subject to a number of conditions. 

The simplest EU citizenship – Alternatives (Bulgaria, Cyprus, Malta, Montenegro)

To become a citizen of a European country in a fast and simplified way, you are not necessarily required to choose Portugal. Some other EU states, too, offer citizenship by investment almost instantly (the process normally takes from six months to two years). You can also opt for citizenship by investment in EU membership candidate countries. Moreover, many of the eligible countries offer attractive taxation frameworks.

For your convenience, in the table below we have compiled comparative conditions of migrant investor programs and the tax regimes of European countries that offer citizenship for investment.

  Bulgaria * Cyprus Malta Montenegro
The minimum size of investments EUR 0.5 million for permanent residence + EUR 0.5 million for citizenship EUR 2.15 million EUR 1 million EUR 550 thousand 
Waiting time before citizenship 24 months

(citizenship may not be granted)

From 7 months From 12 months From 3 months
Opportunity to live

and work in the EU

Yes Yes Yes No

(only in Montenegro)

Is in Schengen zone No No Yes No
Income tax for individuals 10 percent 0-55 percent 0-55 percent 9-11 percent
Capital Gains Tax 10 percent 20 percent 8 percent 9 percent
Wealth tax No No No No
Corporate income tax 10 percent 12.5 percent 55 percent 9 percent
Special treatment for new residents Possible to obtain resident status without domicile (from 90 days)   Possible to obtain resident status without domicile (from 183 days)

* Program is on hold

If you would like to save time and get comprehensive and full responses to your question about obtaining residence, as well as citizenship and passport, please do not hesitate to contact our consultants straightaway at  [email protected]